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Government challenges release of Hillsborough papers

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

The Government is appealing a ruling by information commissioner Christopher Graham ordering them to release cabinet discussions held in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. 96 Liverpool fans died following a crush at an FA Cup semi-final in April 1989.

Shortly after the tragedy then prime minister Margaret Thatcher chaired a cabinet meeting at which the appalling events were discussed with home secretary Douglas Hurd. The minutes from these meetings have never been made public.

In 2009 the BBC made a Freedom of Information request to see the discussions which was refused by the Cabinet Office. However, the information commissioner ruled the discussions were in the public interest and ordered the Cabinet Office to release them – Graham also criticised the Cabinet Office’s “unjustified and excessive delays”.

But in a further twist the Government has appealed the information commissioner’s ruling and said that it should not be forced to release papers that have still to be seen by the Hillsborough Independent Panel. The panel began its two-year inquiry in February 2010 and is sifting through millions of previously secret papers.

The Government’s attempt to delay publication of the cabinet minutes has caused anger among many football fans who still believe a cover-up took place. A recently launched e-petition on the Government’s website demanding “full disclosure of all government documents relating to 1989 Hillsborough disaster” has received thousands of signatures in the past 24 hours.

When signing the petition make sure to validate your email address to ensure your signature is added. You may need to check the ‘junk’ folder in your email client to find the confirmation email.

The petition has also received the backing of Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish. Should it receive more than 100,000 signatures the subject becomes eligible for debate in the House of Commons. With more than one year until the petition is automatically closed this target looks eminently achievable.

To read more on the “context and consequences” of the Hillsborough disaster visit the excellent www.hfdinfo.com.

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